January 26, 2017, 11:30 AM

Facebook tests ads on Messenger’s home screen

Facebook is testing the ads in Australia and Thailand.

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In looking for ways to monetize the more than 1 billion users of Facebook Inc.’s Messenger app, the social network has launched what it calls a “very small test” of ads on the Messenger home screen. The test groups, which consist of users in Thailand and Australia, will start to see these ads in the coming weeks.

The ads enable a retailer to place an ad below a user’s recent conversations, similar to where the messaging app notifies users of friends’ birthdays and which of their friends are currently active on Messenger.

Facebook notes that its ads will not originate within a conversation; a consumer will only see an ad in conversation if he clicks an ad on the Messenger home screen or starts a conversation with an advertiser.

The move to open Messenger’s home screen to advertisers represents the next step of the messaging platform’s evolution. The social network previously only offered ads that appear in a Facebook user’s news feed, which, when clicked, open up in Messenger. But Facebook aims to drive consumers to use Messenger to buy online, as well as handle customer service issues and give marketers more ways to reach out to consumers.

“For the Messenger community, [the ads] may enhance the discovery of new experiences to make it seamless to interact with businesses on their terms,” Facebook writes in a blog post. “For businesses, it could offer a new way to surface their products and services to current and potential customers.”

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